Two-hundred-fifty youngsters in the Manchester end their school year with worn-out books and pens but a fresh outlook on life.

The fifth-graders completed the 10-week  Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program organized by township police and the Board of Education. Graduation took place Tuesday at Ridgeway School.

In addition to certificates of achievement, they were treated to deejay music, a New Jersey State Police helicopter and a pizza party.

The program illustrates ways to avoid the lure of narcotics, to guard against intimidation and peer pressure, and developing critical thinking skills for quality life choices.

D.A.R.E. has its roots in Los Angeles, founded there in 1983 by the city's late police chief Daryl Gates and staffed by 10 officers. Since that time, it's spread to law enforcement agencies nationwide and in 43 other countries, with more than 500,000 trained active-duty officers. Its headquarters are in Inglewood, California.

Members of the Manchester Parent-Teacher Association contributed to the event.